Years of kid’s shows and Disney classics have made us assimilate villainy with ugliness. With their pointed horns, razor sharp fangs and slimy tentacles, there was no mistaking characters like Maleficent, Scar, and Ursula for anything but the story’s big bad. It makes sense that these “bad guys” are made to be so easily recognizable to younger audiences, but that isn’t always the case.
Just like in real life, sometimes TV and movie villains appear average in every way possible. Normal personality, normal clothing, normal actions. They use their apparent mundanity to fly below the radar of suspicion. But what’s even more deceptive? When the villains are downright adorable. These characters had us distracted with their fluffy fur, childlike innocence, and perky personalities. They keep their sinister intentions hidden beneath an endearing aura, until (hopefully) the hero is able to see through their adorable facade.
Here are 15 Times Cute Characters Were Actually The Villains.
15. Hans (Frozen)
Hans is the 13th prince of the Southern Isles in the Disney phenomena Frozen. When we first meet the character, he wins us over with his boyish charm and regal mutton chops. Princess Anna becomes smitten with him as well, and the two hastily plan to marry. However, Hans’ true feelings are revealed when Anna needs true love’s kiss to unfreeze her heart. Hans can’t provide it for her, as he’s actually been plotting to usurp the throne of Arendelle through marriage the entire time.
Though Frozen was met with universal acclaim and grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, some critics thought Hans’ sudden shift in character may have been too alarming for younger viewers. Hans is eventually shipped back to the Southern Isles to receive punishment for his betrayal, but the ultimate message is that dashing looks don’t mean everything, and it’s best not to rush into a relationship without knowing the person’s true intentions.
14. The Killer Rabbit (Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
What could be more harmless than a fluffy white rabbit? That’s exactly what King Arthur and his men think when they arrive at the Cave of Caerbannog in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Tim the Enchanter paints a picture of a grotesque monster with pointed fangs that guards the cave, which the men need to enter on their quest to locate the holy grail. But when a bunny hops out from the darkness, King Arthur disregards the piles of human remains that surround the cave entrance and he sends Bors to behead the adorable rabbit. But it’s the rabbit that actually ends up beheading Bors.
The rabbit flies through the air and bites clean through the soldier’s neck in a single bite. Fresh blood stains the rabbit’s “fangs” and fur, and the fluffy rodent dispatches two more men before it is ultimately blown to bits with the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. This scene from the legendary slapstick comedy has become so iconic that the term “killer rabbit” was even coined as a metaphor for something that appears harmless, but is in fact extremely dangerous.
13. Henry (The Good Son)
After playing Kevin McCallister in Home Alone, we’d come to expect nothing but cuteness from Macaulay Culkin. Sure, his characters were often cunning and wise beyond their years, but they always seemed to have the best intentions. At the start of The Good Son, Culkin played Henry, another young boy who seemed to be clever, yet well-mannered. But when his 12-year-old-cousin comes to live with him, we discover that Henry has an abnormal fascination with death.
Henry becomes manipulative and conniving. For fun, Henry shoots bolts out of a homemade crossbow in an attempt to kill the neighborhood cat, throws a dummy body onto the highway to illicit a car crash, and blames his psychotic actions on his grieving cousin. With his monotone voice and placid expression, Culkin captures the disposition of a disturbed child a little too accurately, and the actor even went on to receive a nomination for Best Villain at the MTV Movie Awards.
12. Lawn Gnomes (Goosebumps)
No other series has made kids afraid of inanimate objects more than Goosebumps. Whether it be a ventriloquist dummy, a Halloween mask, or a snowman, R.L. Stein has a knack for breathing terrifying life into these insentient items and giving us the creeps. He did the same for garden gnomes in his 34th book, Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes, which was also adapted into an episode of the TV series. The story finds lawn gnomes Chip and Hap springing to life at night to deface their owner’s lawn and garden. We wouldn’t expect anything less from the author, but unlike an unsettling doll and a snarling mask, lawn gnomes aren’t inherently creepy looking. They’re actually quite cute with their pointed caps and mystical beards.
11. Sil (Species)
We can’t say that Species is a good movie — it’s a science-fiction horror film that’s short on science and heavy on fiction — but its villain is undeniably cute. Sil is the result of a science experiment gone haywire when alien DNA is spliced with human DNA. Why the scientist would ever think that this would have a positive outcome is beyond us, and the result turns an adorable girl into an alien man-eater.
Since the experiment results in rapid aging acceleration, Sil is actually played by two actresses, a young Michelle Williams and former model Natasha Henstridge. While the extraterrestrial monsters in Alien and Predator use their superior intelligence and razor sharp teeth to kill their pray, Sil relies heavily on her looks to seduce and destroy men. This is perfectly illustrated in the scene where Sil passionately kisses a male suitor and uses her tongue to pierce clean through his skull. At least the xenomorphs didn’t lead anybody on before bursting through their victims’ bodies.
10. Anthony Fremont (The Twilight Zone)
The character of Anthony Fremont is featured in the 73rd episode of The Twilight Zone titled “It’s a Good Life.” Anthony is a six-year-old that can read minds and manipulate those that displease him, and he uses these powers to isolated his small town from the rest of the world, keeping the citizens that remain as slaves under his control. Everyone is terrified of Anthony, but they dare not show it or they’ll be wished away to the town’s cornfield, never to be seen again.
The Twilight Zone is known for its twist endings that make the viewer rethink the entire episode prior to the big reveal. So it’s possible to think that the adorable six-year-old couldn’t possible be the cause of everyone’s suffering. He must be possessed by a demon or controlled by aliens, right? But this episode of the series doesn’t offer up any such twist. As Rod Serling tells us, Anthony Fremont is pure evil, an absolute monster, all hidden beneath “a cute little boy face and blue, guileless eyes.”
9. Tracy Flick (Election)
As Tracy Flick tells us herself, “Some people say I’m an overachiever, but I think they’re just jealous.” There’s no denying Tracy’s ambition; she’s the head of every school committee, participates in Spanish club, is a member of the yearbook staff, and is a shoo-in for student class president. That is, until history teacher Jim McAllister persuades popular football star Paul Metzler to run against her.
From the start of Election, Tracy’s presumptuousness is no doubt annoying, but you still can’t help but feel slightly sympathetic for her. She grew up without a father, her fellow students rarely appreciate her hard work, and she was previously taken advantage of by another teacher at Caver High School. However, any cuteness that may have been a result of Tracy being a try-hard goes out the window when the presidential race begins to narrow. Tracy becomes increasingly agitated, to the point of sabotaging her own hallway posters and blaming it on her opponents. There are a number of flawed characters at the beginning of Election, but by the film’s end, Tracy Flick is easily the most manipulative and insufferable character of them all. As Mr. McAllister puts it, there’s just something about her face.
8. Johan Liebert (Monster)
Monster is an anime series that was adapted from the Japanese manga of the same name. The story centers around Kenzo Tenma, a Japanese surgeon living in Dusseldorf, Germany. Following a local massacre, two fraternal twins, Anna and Johan Liebert, are brought into the hospital where Kenzo works. The brain surgeon saves Johan’s life, only to have both children later disappear from the hospital.
Nine years later, Johan resurfaces. He’s older and conventionally good-looking, sporting blond hair, blue eyes, gentle voice. But inside Johan Liebert is actually the monster from which the series takes its name. It’s revealed that Johan was brought up in Kinderheim 511, a horrid orphanage that experimented on the children in an attempt to create the perfect soldier. It’s also revealed that Johan was a monster long before he ever arrived at the orphanage. Beneath his boyish good looks, Johan is actually a dangerous psychopath who dreams of being the last person alive when the world comes to an end.
7. Asami (Audition)
Few films take such a jarring genre shift like Audition does, all in thanks to its cute (and seemingly harmless) villain. The film begins as a romantic drama and ends as a stomach-churning outing in torture porn, and it gained notoriety for making its audience members faint. The story begins when a seven-year widower decides to hold a casting audition under the guise of looking for a new wife. He immediately becomes smitten with Asami, who comes off as a delicate and emotionally sensitive young woman.
We eventually learn that Asami has a dark past, when she confesses to being abused as a child, but not even this admission could begin to prepare us for Asami’s true intentions. Audition ends with its infamous torture scene where Asmai is revealed to be a masochist, drugging and torturing the lonely widower, with no motive other than her personal enjoyment. This film and its unsuspecting villain are not for the faint of heart.
6. Esther (Orphan)
This 2009 psychological thriller follows a young couple who adopt a nine-year-old girl following the death of their unborn child. Kate and John take in Esther, a young Russian girl who was previously living in an orphanage. Esther may appear proper and sweet, but Sister Abigail warns Kate that bad things happen when Esther’s around. And boy, was she right.
Esther is actually a 33-year-old woman named Leena Klammer who has a hormone disorder that has arrested her growth. We discover that Leena has spent time in a mental hospital in Estonia, and that she’s killed at least seven people by pretending to be an orphan with the goal of seducing her adoptive fathers. It’s all super creepy, though we can admit that Leena’s bizarre situation would make it difficult for her to date. Despite trying to revert back into her childlike persona, Kate boots this creepy “kid” in the face and puts an end to her sinister charade once and for all.
5. The Woodland Critters (South Park)
In episode 125 of South Park, titled “Woodland Critter Christmas,” the Boy in the Red Poof-Ball Hat (Stan) stumbles upon the absolutely adorable Woodland Critters decorating a Christmas tree in the woods. The episode starts off feeling particularly wholesome, as all the cute Critters are brimming with holiday cheer.
Conflict arises when Porcupiney becomes impregnated with their savior, and the Critters beg Stan to kill the evil mountain lion that annually kills their pregnant friends. Stan succeeds in eliminating the mountain lion, only to discover that the Woodland Critters are actually Satan worshipers, and that Porcupiney is carrying the Antichrist inside of her. Despite their Christmas cheer and high-pitched voices, the Critters eyes glow a demonic shade of red, and they’re even able to summon flames from the depths of Hell. These adorable animals go on to carry out a number of obscene acts that we can’t describe here, but the result makes for one of South Park‘s most outlandish and darkly funny episodes to date.
4. Dawn Bellwether (Zootopia)
Dawn is the perky Assistant Mayor of Zootopia, a mammal metropolis where predator and prey are able to peacefully co-exist. Dawn is a wonderfully cute sheep who always claims that the little guys need to stick together. She works under the cantankerous Mayor Lionheart, and even though she seems very passionate about her work, she modestly proclaims herself to be a “glorified secretary.”
When a number of the predator animals in Zootopia revert back to their feral state, Dawn seems nothing but co-operative in helping with the investigation headed up by Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde. But that all changes when the duo gets a little too close to discovering the truth, and Dawn reveals herself to be the mastermind behind the prey-supremacist conspiracy that has torn the city apart. Talk about a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In a movie that took animal puns to the extreme, we should’ve seen this twist coming.
3. Damien (The Omen)
In this 1976 horror film, Damien is a young child adopted by birth by American Ambassador Robert Thorn. When Richard’s wife, Katherine, gives birth to a boy who dies moments later, the hospital chaplain convinces Richard to secretly adopt another new born baby who has been left motherless. Richard agrees, but decides to keep the swap a secret from his wife. And if that’s not bad enough, their new son just so happens to be the son of the Devil. Naturally.
Dressed in his tie and cap, Damien may look like a dapper young gentleman on the outside, but beneath the facade, he’s actually the Antichrist — a living embodiment of pure evil. Damien takes sibling rivalry to an entirely new level when he pushes his adopted mother over the stair railing after finding out that she’s pregnant. His real mother is revealed to be a jackal, and his birthday is (of course) on June 6th. In fact, the remake of the original film was even released on June 6th, 2006, which mirrors the boy’s eerie birthmark.
2. Lotso (Toy Story 3)
Even for a stuffed animal, Lots-O’-Huggin Bear looks exceptionally cute and cuddly. He’s large and plush, complete with a husky voice and a welcoming smile. He even acts as a gracious host when Andy’s toys arrive in their new home at Sunnyside. However, Lotso sugarcoats the introduction, and many of the toys end up being abused by the toddlers at the daycare center.
In a flashback, we’re told that Lotso was once the favorite toy of a young girl named Daisy. But one day, the purple bear was left behind at a family picnic, and when he finally managed to make it home, he discovered that he’d been replaced. Something snaps in Lotso that day, and after arriving at Sunnyside, he runs the daycare center as if it’s an internment camp. He even resets Buzz’s memory and uses the space ranger to prevent the other toys from escaping. Lotso differs from the other villains of the Toy Story series, not just because he’s cute on the outside, but that he uses his appearance to outright deceive others into obeying him.
1. Rhoda Penmark (The Bad Seed)
This 1956 thriller no doubt inspired a number of other movies that made this list, including The Omen, Orphan and The Good Son. The story follows Rhoda Penmark, a cute eight-year-old who sports a pinafore dress and blonde pigtails.
Despite already being an accomplished piano player and tap dancer, Rhoda obsessively holds grudges against anyone that outperforms her, including her classmate, Claude Daigle. When Claude drowns during a school picnic, Rhoda is the last person to see him alive, and it’s later revealed that Rhoda beat Claude with her tap shoes prior to his death. Rhoda’s mother, Christine, comes to believe that her daughter’s sociopathy is a result of genetics, as Christine’s mother is the offspring of a notorious serial killer. When Christine fails to kill her daughter with a lethal dose of sleeping pills, Rhoda is eventually struck by lightning and killed. While it was a WTF ending of the highest order, it no doubt helped audiences of the 1950s rest easy knowing that justice was served. Patty McCormack was even nominated for Best Supporting Actress for playing the deceptively cute villain, making her one of the youngest actresses of all time to be nominated for an Academy Award.
So which cute character surprised you with their sinister intentions? Let us know in the comments.